Germany and the Netherlands have taken the first individual gold medals on offer at the 2016 UCI Road World Championships after Marco Mathis and Karlijn Swinkels claimed the victories in the U-23 Men’s and Junior Women’s Time Trials on Monday.
Averaging a speed of over 44 kmh on the fast, flat course, Swinkels stormed to the gold medal in Doha with an eight second advantage over Lisa Morzenti (Italy) and 22 seconds over Juliette Labous of France. With the 13 top riders separated by less than a minute on the results board, the gaps at the head of the classification were tight, but Swinkels, already the fastest on Morzenti by three seconds at the immediate checkpoint, managed to maintain and then increase her initial advantage through to the finish.
“I came here on Thursday, we did a recovery ride on Friday and then on the second day, I rode on the course and I did every curve ten times to make sure it was perfect,” Swinkels said later.
“I’m very proud, I didn’t expect it at all, but dreams come true.”
Run over a distance of 13.7 kilometres, 1.3 kilometres less than in the Road World Championships in Richmond last year, even if gold was not possible, Morzenti made a big improvement, jumping from 17th in the US equivalent event to silver in Doha.
“I’m very satisfied, because I didn’t know what to expect from these Worlds. Coming first is always hard, so I’m pleased with silver,” Morzenti said.
Labous, fifth last year in Richmond, was the only rider from last year’s Road World Championships to repeat a top five result in this category, but in Qatar she was able to go two places better. The Frenchwoman, last down the start ramp, finally took bronze with an eight second advantage over US rider Skylar Schneider.
“My aim was to win, but third place is also good,” Labous said. “Last year, I was very disappointed with how I rode in Richmond and I was very disappointed again after the European Championships,” – where she also took the bronze medal in this category – “but here I am happy,”
The U-23 Men’s Time Trial, over a distance of 28.9 kilometres, – again, one kilometre shorter than in Richmond – was won by Germany’s Marco Mathis, 18 seconds ahead of his compatriot Maximilian Schachmann and 37 seconds ahead of Australia’s Miles Scotson. Another German, Lennard Kamna, was in fourth.
Second down the ramp at 11.31 this morning, Mathis completed the race with the best time on each of the intermediate checkpoints and crossing the finish line on the Pearl Island in a time of 34 minutes and eight seconds. He then had to wait until the last starter, 2015 defending champion Mads Wurtz Schmidt of Denmark, completed the course. The Dane faded badly to 21st and Mathis could start to celebrate.
“It was so long in the hot seat,” Mathis said afterwards of his four hour wait for victory, “but it was my kind of course, absolutely flat and technical. Really, I have no words to express how well it went, and how pleased I am.”
Recognising that Germany has a long tradition of top time triallists, Mathis said, “We have a lot of riders for this like [former World TT Champion] Tony Martin,” and he promised himself “a small celebration this evening and a much bigger one after Thursday’s [U-23] road-race.”
“I’m very surprised about this victory, but I’m very happy.”
“I didn’t win, of course, but in the end it’s the best thing to beaten by a teammate, so I’m happy,” Schachmann argued.
“We Germans are a time trial nation, we’re always good in this discipline.”
Asked about the final result, Schachmann said “I was surprised because six riders from the top ten started early, I expected the opposite to be honest.”
Finally asked about Tony Martin – who will race on Wednesday in the elite men’s time trial event, which he has won three times – Schachmann said “I know him fairly well and we were talking to each other six days ago when we trained together. I guess we can learn from each other but he is for sure the more experienced guy.”
Racing continues on Tuesday with the Junior Men and the Elite Womens’ individual time trials, both over distances of 28.9 kilometres.